On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. Based upon an order of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court, the colony’s militia was organized into three permanent regiments to better defend the colony. Today, the descendants of these first regiments – the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – share the distinction of being the oldest units in the U.S. military. December 13, 1636, thus marks the beginning of the organized militia, and the birth of the National Guard’s oldest organized units is symbolic of the founding of all the state, territory, and District of Columbia militias that collectively make up today’s National Guard.
The National Guard of the United States, part of the reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, is a reserve military force, composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and the territories of Guam, of the Virgin Islands, and of Puerto Rico, as well as of the District of Columbia, for a total of 54 separate organizations. All members of the National Guard of the United States are also members of the militia of the United States as defined by 10 U.S.C. § 246. National Guard units are under the dual control of the state and the federal government.
The majority of National Guard soldiers and airmen hold a civilian job full-time while serving part-time as a National Guard member. These part-time guardsmen are augmented by a full-time cadre of Active Guard & Reserve (AGR) personnel in both the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, plus Army Reserve Technicians in the Army National Guard and Air Reserve Technicians (ART) in the Air National Guard.
The National Guard is a joint activity of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) composed of reserve components of the United States Army and the United States Air Force: the Army National Guard of the United States and the Air National Guard of the United States respectively.
Local militias were formed from the earliest English colonization of the Americas in 1607. The first colony-wide militia was formed by Massachusetts in 1636 by merging small older local units, and several National Guard units can be traced back to this militia. The various colonial militias became state militias when the United States became independent. The title “National Guard” was used in 1824 by some New York State militia units, named after the French National Guard in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. “National Guard” became a standard nationwide militia title in 1903, and specifically indicated reserve forces under mixed state and federal control since 1933.
Video by Tech. Sgt. Karl Schwach.